Glee! 4.9 – Swan Song

This is in gross violation of the five second rule.

Before we get into the recap allow me to say a few things: when I was in LA in October, I watched Chris and Lea film the scene in their loft as they talked about the Winter Showcase and as the props department tried to make that record player spin (it wouldn’t).  This is interesting probably to no one but me.  The show is more like fanfic every day (which is fun) and Ryan Murphy laid out a pre-emptive strike against fangirls that are most likely up at arms about a new ‘ship that sailed this episode.

And Chris Colfer delivered – what I think – is in his top 3 performances, ever.


We left off with Marley passing out last episode, so it picks up in that super hectic place of people carrying her off and whisking her back to the choir room.  They all try to get her to eat something, and even Kitty wants her to drink some damn apple juice.  Santana immediately calls Kitty out, knowing she’s behind this, and it’s gratifying to see Kitty looking nervous and freaked out.  YEAH. WHAT DID YOU THINK WOULD HAPPEN, IDIOT CHILD?

Point: this story arc should be dead, so we’ll skip to how everyone is angry to find out that by leaving the stage mid-performance, they’re disqualified.  Sue is beyond happy to hear this, let’s them know the Warblers won, and Marley bursts into tears.

The “new Rachel” my ass.  Or Tina’s ass.  She is beyond angry that her Glee Club career is over, and Artie is right there with her on the anger wave.  Yikes.  What’s going to happen now?  (Awesome story lines, that’s what! I am glad we’re not following the same formula this year, personally!)

Speaking of Rachel…she and Kurt are settling in for the night after their Kiki, cleaning up the mess.  Kurt (wearing an awesome hoodie in a gorgeous color) tells her that he just got a text from Blaine, and that the New Directions are done.

There are a few important things to take away from the next several minutes of conversation:

  • Kurt and Blaine are talking again, even if it’s just through texts as friends.
  • These two humans are ridiculously attractive
  • Kurt is beginning to worry about his upcoming NYADA audition
  • Rachel is desperate to be invited to NYADA’s “Winter Showcase,” in which 10 students are personally invited by Carmen Tibidieaux to perform, crowning a “winner” at the end.
  • Only one Freshman in the past seven years has ever been invited, it’s mentioned
  • and did I mention how freaking handsome these two kids are? Good lord, stop hogging all of the attractive.

Rachel is, of course, invited.  Carmen even comes into her dance class (I assume they spent the entire weekend cleaning and lounging around handsomely until class on Monday) to hand her the beautiful invite on thick vellum. In your face, Cassandra!

Finn comes back to McKinley after the break to find the choir room being systematically dismantled by eager Cheerios.  The hell?  Oh, see, because the New Directions are exactly that, and the direction they’re headed is Donesville, Sue took it upon herself to exercise eminent domain and mostly because she’ll need an additional rehearsal space for the new Cheerios group, Sue du Soliel.  And everything in that room is hers now, from the wall hangings to the trophies.

Not so fast, Sue.  Finn is way stronger than Will Schuester, and he’s not going to let you rip that Nationals trophy out of his hands.  They carefully have a tug-of-war all the way to Figgins’ office where Finn learns that the budget crisis has meant that all available space is being leased out to various groups in the community, leaving absolutely nowhere in the school for Glee.  Which is over anyway, because they lost, right?

Finn, chagrined, hands over the keys to the choir room.  Immediately a fiery light shines on Sue Sylvester, thunder rolls, an organ plays creepy chords in F Minor, and red-and-white polyester-bedecked demons come flying out of the cracks of the earth.  SUE SYLVESTER IS READY FOR HER THOUSAND YEAR REIGN OF TERROR AND HERKIES!

…except, huh.  She looks into her hand and gosh, this massive victory feels hollow.  For once in her Grinchy life she’s thinking of others.  What will become of these kids now that they no longer have Glee?

Tina: becomes the decided leader of the Crazy 88s, reigning terror over Lima’s Chinatown

Artie: sells legs to science, sad that he only got four dollars and a half-off coupon for a free order of breadsticks at Breadstix for them.

Blaine: falls off the deep end, stops gelling, stops ironing clothes, and also hits the bathhouse performing circuit. Without shower shoes.

Brittany: becomes a finance major at Brandeis as it turns out that Glee club was holding her back.

Sue just wishes for a sign, something to let her know that she did the right thing here… And in one of the great moments of self-awareness, Brad the Piano Man comes in with a box of his things, beyond elated.  God, he hates those kids.  With the “hit it!” and never telling him what to play?  Now he can finally move on with his life and work at that dueling piano bar in Columbus like he’s always dreamed. Thanks, Sue!

“Those kids smell like desperation and Axe body spray!
…which are the same thing, come to think of it.”

Finn has the awful task of telling the group that Glee no longer has a place to rehearse.  Sugar didn’t bother to show, Tina lights into Marley with Artie on backup vocals, and everyone looks sad.  But there is still a holiday performance to come, right? This last performance of the year will be amazing, and then we can spend the rest of the school year working on next year’s competition cycle.

Uh, check your underclassman privilege, guys, because Sam, Blaine, Brit, Tina and Artie won’t be here next year. Ouch.

Brittany walks down the hall and sees a Cheerio on the ground.  An entire trail of them, actually, and she gets down and eats them oh my god, leading her to Sam, waiting with a glass of milk.  He knows that she forgets to eat sometimes, and aw, isn’t that sweet.  They both like each other, but he like likes her. In the most unbelievable line of dialog in a long time, Sam says that clearly Santana called him Trouty Mouth and was mean to him when they dated two years ago because she could tell that Sam was crazy for Brittany.

Nope.  No way.  You did not earn that, writers, and I am not letting you get away with it.  This year?  Yes.  He clearly has been holding a candle for her, but prior? Not even a little bit.  He was more interested in Kurt than he was in Brittany.  But whatever, I’m never consulted on these things, so we swallow that ridiculous line and move on to them singing “Something Stupid,” and it’s really cute.  They have nice voices together! I actually like their voices better than I liked Sam with Quinn – Heather Morris seems to have really worked on her vocals this year.

They’re cute and flirty but not saccharine.  He tries to kiss her at the end. And she’s all “Nope, with a side of nuh-uh.” Even though his lips look really soft and horizontal.

Look, she thinks he’s the bee’s knees, but she has a responsibility to the lesbian community.  They have written and tweeted about how wonderful it was to have an actual-facts lesbian couple together and out, and she can’t turn her back on them, even though technically she’s bi. They’ll turn on her, and most likely attack Sam.

(Attention violently crazy ‘shipping fangirls: this was directed at you. Stop going after people that get in the way of your ‘ships.  It’s weird and they’re not really dating. It’s a TV show!)

Rachel is in her dance class and stops for a drink of water, which means Cassandra needs to make an example of how awful and lame Rachel is. You know, Rachel has improved a lot, okay?  Oh really?  Cassandra wants to prove her wrong with a five six seven eight! They duel with the opening to Chicago, with “All That Jazz.”

I am a cut and dried villain! If I had a mustache I would twirl it! But girl, I got that threaded off in the Village last week, see? No, look through my fingers to really focus on my upper lip.

Let’s be frank: Kate Hudson is a very good dancer and she makes gorgeous lines with her body. But she has no flavor to her voice. It’s like Gwenyth Paltrow – can she sing? Yes. Should she be a singer? No.  And Lea Michele can stage dance, to be sure. But Lea Michele/Rachel is a singing phenom, and Cassandra knows she couldn’t beat her at that. Cassandra tries to say this was a dancing competition, and Rachel is going to lose the winter showcase, but Rachel can’t be beaten at singing, so we’ll just see about this whole “losing” thing, Cassandra. Why don’t you drink your breakfast and take a liver pill. /Flounce.

Carmen is working on the Winter Showcase when Kurt drops by to make sure she got his second audition tape (an acoustic version of “Wake Me Up (Before You Go Go)” and can we just talk about the hint of emotion for Blaine that we could take from this?  Just me?  Am I reaching again?  Okay, then.) and yes, she got it, and no, she doesn’t care about it.  Where is his emotion? Where’s the vulnerability?  Where is his soul? He’s all props, bells and whistles.  She wants a performer that isn’t going to hide behind that stuff. No more second chances for him.

Naturally, he is devastated.

Now we have the sad (and funny) scene where we learn that everyone has moved on from Glee.  (They want to compete! It’s the senior year for many of them, and what, they just study?) Artie is a “drum leader” whatever that is. (Drum Major.) Tina and Blaine are Cheerios (and a fandom cries out, Hosanna! Tight polyester on Blaine’s perfect bubble butt!) Jake and Ryder are on the basketball team, Wade is inexplicably on the floor hockey team because he can wear a wig under his helmet, and Joe is on the Interfaith Paintball League where Christians  Jews, and Muslims can shoot each other safely. LOL.

Funny moment: Sue saying why she would let Blaine and Tina on the team.  Blaine, because he’s a handsome, non-flammable gay (he gives his “Young Burt Reynolds” smile) and Tina because Sue needs some more color on the team. Specifically Yellow #4. WOW.  Yep, Norman Lear was Ryan Murphy’s writing idol.

Finn is super upset about this because he can’t believe they’d go to Sue of all people. Not to mention that Artie came into the shop to drag Finn out of his emotional hole just to work for Glee! So he has a six minute window for rehearsal on Friday night, and he just hopes they all show up. Tina uses this moment to give Marley more grief about passing out and ruining all of their lives, everyone slowly leaves (Blaine is the last, checking his watch to get to that important Watch Appointment) leaving Finn and Marley sad faced as the lights goes out forever.  Or until tomorrow when the cleaning crew arrives.

Brittany asks Sam out on a date to Breadstix, which means they won’t be able to go to that rehearsal they weren’t planning on going to anyway.  They seal the deal with a kiss, regardless of hate mail she might get.  Her lesbian fans will know that love is love, right?  (Um…so she’s in love with Sam?  Okay?)

BUT NOW WE GET TO THE BEST PART OF THE EPISODE. Its the Winter Showcase, which Carmen says features, ‘Ten students who exemplify the best of what they’re trying to achieve [at NYADA].”

Ecco Cygnus: A Black Swan (a running gag with Rachel and her dance class) steps forth in all of her froth and intrigue to perform a dance.  Rachel waits outside the performance hall, pulling herself together when Brody comes to help buck her up. In an awesome moment that recognizes the huge strides Rachel Barbra Berry has made this season, she smilingly informs him that she doesn’t need bucking up. Oh, she’s terrified but she knows that she can sing.  She can do this. She kisses him, hey-hey! and says that she’s going to start doing things in case she doesn’t get the chance again.

Kurt steps out in his homage to Duckie (Pretty in Pink) outfit and tells her that she’s up. I love that they are each other’s dates to important things. Rachel steps out and simply begins the song, “Being Good Isn’t Good Enough,” which could mean that she won’t win the showcase, or that she’s finally figured out that just being an amazing singer like she is isn’t enough.  She needs more: confidence, no more hubris, and pure dedication to the performance as an emotional experience.

I could literally listen to this woman sing every day of my life and not be unhappy.

The Black Swan looks nervous, and rightfully so.  Rachel sounds unbelievably beautiful here, and Carmen hides a smile behind her hand. Rachel gets a standing ovation and she’s moved, amazed, and unbelievably excited.  The first of many, let’s hope. People actually beg for an encore, which she jumps at.

She – strangely – sings “O Holy Night,” a song that I can’t hear without thinking of Cartman singing it, because that’s how my brain functions.  It’s a lovely song and she sounds wonderful, but she’s Jewish and it’s strange to have Christmas songs already. Just me?

There’s a montage as she sings of Finn packing up the remaining Glee trophies and sundries, Sue gloating on a poster as the Cheerios work on their Cirque du Soliel moves, and the Winter Showcase audience mouthing along with Rachel as she sings, moved again by her voice. And yep, Miss Rachel mopped the floor with the competition.  Cut to Finn leaving with bubble-wrapped trophies, devastated.

His dreams are over just as Rachel realizes hers. :(

Carmen looks over at Kurt before calling Rachel superb.  She announces the intermission and that when they return, Kurt Hummel will perform a number for them all.  SHOCKED BOY SAYS WHAT?!

He freaks out on the outside walkway with Rachel, scared and thinking that this will be an automatic failure.  You better stop that stinkin’ thinkin’, Mr. Hummel and go back to your best performances, the ones with pure emotion and no hubris.  No cages, swirling swords, no candles and capes.  Go back to “As If We Never Said Goodbye,” Kurt. GO BACK TO “I WANNA HOLD YOUR HAND. ” Draw from your emotions and dedicate this to yourself!

I cannot deal with how adorable this human creature is. And I want that velvet coat.

He comes out looking terrified (I love when Chris Colfer gets to be a funny physical actor) and while he’s loved the song he’s about to sing since he was a little boy, he only now understands fundamentally what the song is about. And he sings the song that simply cannot be performed without deeply expressed emotions, “Being Alive” from Company.

This song isn’t technical. It isn’t a huge vehicle to showcase a vocalist’s range.  This song is purely about expressing the loneliness inside you, the desperate ache to have someone, and how they’ve pretended that they don’t need that, but it’s a lie.  They do.  They need someone. If this didn’t make an ache in your Klaine-heart, then you might actually literally be dead.

Chris’s voice is amazing here, using his lower register and staying there (not a huge vocal range in this number) and he emotes beautifully.  “Somebody hold me too close,” and “make me aware of being alive!”  The audience is in the palm of his hand and so am I as he chokes out (beautifully) “Alone is alone, not alive,” and “I’ll always be there, frightened as you.”

YOU HAVE KILLED ME DEAD, SIR. (I have a real love for this song in the first place. You add in the “Oh, Blaine you have broken my heart, Sir, and I need you” feels and I am a sobbing mess of woe.)  He finishes, the audience gives him Kurt Hummel’s very first New York City standing ovation, and a single perfect tear rolls down his cheek as he tries to take that in.

If this didn’t give you chills (or at least a smile) then you might actually be a monster.

Finn, sad, in the dark, and horribly alone, gets a call from Rachel. He has to look at his phone to decide if he’s going to take it, it seems like.  It’s…not been a good day for Finn Hudson. She insists it wasn’t a butt dial, but that she just wanted to talk to him.  He chokes down his misery to ask her about her performance, and she tells him that she won.

Let’s give it up to Cory Monteith for looking both incredibly proud of her and completely sad for himself.  They talk about Glee disbanding, but she reminds him that it wasn’t all about the competitions for her.  It was about the friends she made, singing for the joy of singing, and meeting the most important people of her life.  Don’t give up, Finn.  Don’t give up your dreams.

He takes a deep breath and the moment cuts to him in the auditorium for his six minutes.  No one but Marley shows up, but she tells him that she found a rehearsal place for them that they can’t be kicked out of.  Finn has his Breakfast Club moment as “Don’t You Forget About Me” plays while he emails everyone that there’s a little bit of a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal in all of them. (Hahaha, this is totally true.) And show up at the new place, please?

The most despondent hula hooping you’ll ever see in your life. Also, hello Mr. Anderson’s swiveling hips. Nice work of fishing out your phone and reading while hula-hooping, too.

Cut to Blaine and Tina at practice as they get the email. Finn ended the email with a mention that Rachel won first place in a competition where no freshman has ever won.  Don’t give up on their dreams!

Outside in the courtyard, Finn and Marley wait with a very angry Brad. (Hahaha) They start to sing a stripped down version of “Don’t Dream It’s Over” and I love it.  Cory sounds so wonderful – all season long his voice has just surprised me with how much he’s grown as a performer – and Marley is actually overshadowed by him.  And then Blaine and Tina show up and join in! And Brit and Sam! And then everyone and there is smiling and joy and merriment, except for Brad because now his dreams of taking Boca Raton by storm with his showtune medleys are over.  Thanks a lot, Gleeks.

Kurt stands shell shocked in his apartment as Rachel comes in.  He has his NYADA letter: and they’ve accepted him. YAY!

Don’t dream it’s over!  I AM TAKING THAT TO MY KLAINE HEART, SHOW!

(Something to think about: this episode picked up when it focused on the NYC folks and the other core members of the cast. Ahem.)